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To be seen and heard: Realizing the benefits of diversity and responding to the needs of minority academic librarians

Date

2015-10-21

Author

Alabi, Jaena

Publisher

Mississippi Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries Section

Abstract

Diversity continues to be an important topic of conversation for librarians--we talk about the importance of representing a variety of viewpoints in our collections, providing diverse programs that meet the needs of a broad range of constituents, and investigating ways that we as a profession can better reflect the demographics of our changing communities. In many of these conversations, though, the need for diversity is taken as a given. But if our diversity efforts, especially those related to recruitment, are to be successful, we need to define what we mean by “diversity” and explicitly state the goals we hope to achieve by creating a more diverse workforce. The work of diversity does not end with hiring people from underrepresented groups; we will also need to invest time and energy in creating inclusive environments, those in which differences are seen as strengths to be taken advantage of rather than difficulties to be overcome or avoided. In creating these more inclusive environments, we will need to identify the varying needs of librarians from diverse backgrounds. Listening to these voices--voices that are often marginalized--and addressing the concerns raised will allow us as individuals to work more productively together, thus creating a stronger profession.